The Sudan Crisis: Displays of Unity
This chapter is the first of two chapters on the 1885 Sudan crises. It shows how the New South Wales offer of troops to assist the British campaign in North Africa sparked heated discussions in the Australian press over Australia’s imperial role. The crisis occurred in the context of Australian fears of German encroachment in the Pacific region, and followed Queensland’s abortive annexation of south-eastern New Guinea. The New South Wales contingent became a symbol through which the press could make claims of imperial unity. The desire to be noticed by Britain exposed the pressures of a society seeking to validate its own importance. In Britain, the contingent affirmed the white colonies as flag bearers for the empire’s future, seemingly returning the investment in them that was debated during the Waikato War. It also advertised to the wider world the global interconnections of ‘Britishness’ and the loyalty of the white settlers. At the same time, the colonies were seen to be strong precisely because they bucked the trend of ‘unmanly’ progressive political trends.